Are you looking for books about New Orleans before you travel?
Maybe you are a history enthusiast seeking to uncover the layers of New Orleans’ past?
A culinary adventurer eager to savor its diverse flavors?
Or a traveler longing to wander through its picturesque neighborhoods?
Here is a book list of various genres, from historical fiction and spooky mysteries to children’s stories and comprehensive guides for visitors.
Not least of all, a compilation of book titles to help you explore and celebrate food in New Orleans.
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Memoirs And Fiction Books About New Orleans
Novels Set in New Orleans with Culinary Themes
“Queen Sugar” by Natalie Baszile
Summary: While much of the novel is set on a sugarcane farm in Louisiana, New Orleans plays a significant role in the protagonist’s journey.
After inheriting her father’s farm, Charley Bordelon faces the challenges of managing it while navigating her city life in New Orleans.
The book offers a poignant exploration of family, identity, and the connection between food and culture.
Recommended for: Fans of family sagas and those who appreciate novels that incorporate themes of African American women and struggles of single motherhood.
“Page turning and heartbreaking”
“The Feast Nearby: How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on $40 a week)” by Robin Mather
Summary: While the majority of the book takes place in Michigan, the protagonist’s journey leads her to New Orleans, where she explores the city’s vibrant food scene.
Through her eyes, readers experience the city’s culinary diversity and the role of food in rebuilding communities after Hurricane Katrina.
Recommended for: Readers interested in sustainable living and homesteading.
“Relatable and enjoyable”
Historical Fiction Set in New Orleans
These New Orleans themed novels are gateways to the past, inviting you to walk alongside the city’s diverse inhabitants, to feel the rhythm of its bygone eras, and to face the challenges that shaped its evolution.
“Cane River” by Lalita Tademy
Summary: This novel spans generations and revolves around the lives of four women from a Creole family in Louisiana, including New Orleans. It explores their struggles, aspirations, and experiences in the backdrop of historical events, offering a multigenerational perspective on the region’s history.
Recommended for: Readers interested in the history of Creole communities and fans of Oprah’s Book Club.
“Life changing and could not put it down”
Summary: This novel is set in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, capturing the lives of two families as they navigate the devastation and challenges brought on by the disaster. Through their stories, the book provides a poignant depiction of the resilience and spirit of New Orleans.
Recommended for: Fans of the HBO series Treme. Anyone who read “Why New Orleans Matters” and loved it. Those intrigued by the impact of Hurricane Katrina and readers interested in post-disaster narratives.
“Richly detailed, emotional novel”
“The Feast of All Saints” by Anne Rice
Summary: This novel by Anne Rice provides a vivid glimpse into the rich tapestry of 19th-century New Orleans Creole society. Set in the years leading up to the Civil War, it depicts the lives of the gens de couleur libre, or free people of color, and the opulent feasts they prepared.
The book offers a unique perspective on New Orleans’ culinary and cultural history, making it a compelling choice for those interested in historical fiction with a culinary twist.
Recommended for: Historical fiction enthusiasts, readers interested in Creole history.
“Loved it, Fascinating”
Children’s Books About New Orleans
Build the kid’s excitement by reading a book about New Orleans and sharing with them what to expect when they get here. These new Orleans books are are perfect gifts for grandchildren or teachers.
“Petite Rouge: A Cajun Red Riding Hood” by Mike Artell
Summary: A clever twist on the classic fairy tale, “Petite Rouge” transports the story to the bayous of Louisiana.
In this humorous version, Petite Rouge (Little Red Riding Hood) and her friend TeJean the alligator face off against Claude the evil chef. With Cajun accents and Louisiana flavors, this book offers a playful culinary adventure.
Recommended for: children who enjoy fractured fairy tales and a touch of Cajun culture.
“Dreaming of New Orleans: Counting Down Around the Town” by Gretchen Everin
Summary: A board book for discovering all the sights and sounds of New Orleans. A great book for preparing children to travel to New Orleans and introduce sites such as St. Louis Cathedral, streetcars, and the music of Mardis Gras.
Recommended for: Young children planning to visit New Orleans as well as those who already live here.
“The Bourbon Street Band is Back” by Ed Shankman and Dave O’Neill
Summary: the animals get together in this charming book of rhyming text to show us the healing power of music.
Recommended for: Poetry and Jazz music lover’s of all ages. Reader’s who love Shankman and O’Neill books.
“Terrific book and bright illustrations”
Cookbooks and Culinary Exploration
If you are anything like me, you are traveling for New Orleans amazing food destinations. These books share the city’s great culinary heritage.
“Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table” by Sara Roahen
Summary: This memoir-cum-food exploration takes readers on a journey through the streets of New Orleans, exploring the city’s culinary heritage and traditions.
The author’s personal anecdotes are intertwined with historical insights, showcasing how food is deeply woven into the fabric of New Orleans culture.
Recommended for: for those who appreciate a blend of personal narrative and cultural exploration.
Reader’s thoughts: Captures the spirit of the city and its people.
“The P&J Oyster Cookbook” by Kit Wohl
Summary: New Orleans is renowned for its seafood, and this cookbook celebrates one of its most famous delicacies – oysters.
The book features a diverse collection of oyster recipes, from classic Rockefeller to inventive modern twists. Alongside the recipes, it offers insights into the history of the city’s oyster industry, making it a treat for seafood aficionados and history buffs alike.
Recommended for: Oyster lovers, aspiring chefs, and history enthusiasts interested in New Orleans’ culinary heritage.
“Best oyster recipes ever!”
“Chasing the Gator: Isaac Toups and the New Cajun Cooking” by Issac Toups and Jennifer V. Cole
Summary: From the fan favorite of Top Chef and chef owner of the acclaimed Toups’ Meatery, enjoy stories and tales of growing up in the Louisiana Bayou along with over 100 recipes.
Recommended for: Fans of Top Chef and modern Cajun cuisine.
“Treme: Stories and Recipes from the Heart of New Orleans” by Lolis Eric Elie
Summary: This book combines storytelling, recipes, and photography to capture the essence of New Orleans’ Treme neighborhood.
Through personal narratives, food memories, and delectable recipes, readers gain insight into the intersection of food and culture in the city. With contributions from notable chefs and locals.
“Po’Boy” (Louisiana True) by Burke Bishoff
Summary: Tells the story of one of New Orleans most iconic sandwiches.
Discover how the po’boy has become a symbol of New Orleans culture, history, and cuisine.
Recommended for: all lover’s of Po’Boys and New Orleans food.
Ethnic Roots of New Orleans Cookbook Collection
“The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South” by Michael W. Twitty
JAMES BEARD AWARD WINNER FOR WRITING
Summary: In this thought-provoking work, the author delves into the intertwined history of Southern cuisine and African American identity.
Twitty explores the roots of traditional New Orleans dishes, connecting them to the experiences of enslaved Africans and their contributions to shaping the region’s culinary landscape.
Recommended for: Readers eager to understand the cultural origins of New Orleans cuisine and American food culture.
“Mosquito Supper Club: Cajun Recipes from a Disappearing Bayou” by Melissa M. Martin
Summary: Chef Melissa M. Martin takes readers on a journey through her family’s Cajun heritage and the vanishing traditions of the Louisiana bayou.
With authentic recipes and personal stories, the book offers a window into the Creole and Cajun influences that shape New Orleans’ cuisine.
Summary: While not exclusively about New Orleans, this cookbook showcases the broader influence of Cajun and Creole cuisines on the city’s food scene. It celebrates the cultural diversity of Acadiana and provides recipes that highlight the flavors of New Orleans‘ neighboring regions.
Recommended for: Home cooks interested in regional cuisine, those curious about the broader culinary context of New Orleans, and fans of rustic cooking.
Classic New Orleans Cookbooks
“The Picayune’s Creole Cook Book” by The Picayune
Summary: Originally published in 1901 by The Times-Picayune newspaper, this cookbook is a historical gem filled with traditional Creole recipes that reflect the city’s culinary heritage.
“The Dooky Chase Cookbook” by Leah Chase
Description: Leah Chase, the legendary Creole chef and owner of Dooky Chase’s Restaurant in New Orleans, shares her culinary wisdom in this cookbook. Filled with traditional Creole recipes and personal anecdotes, it provides insight into the legacy of one of New Orleans’ iconic eateries.
Books About New Orleans Notable Chefs and Restaurants
“Commander’s Kitchen: Take Home the True Taste of New Orleans with More Than 150 Recipes from Commander’s Palace Restaurant” by Ti Adelaide Martin and Jamie Shannon
Summary: This cookbook delves into the culinary legacy of the Brennan family, who are renowned for their influence on New Orleans’ dining scene.
It offers recipes from the Commander’s Palace restaurant, along with stories and insights into the family’s contributions to Creole and Cajun cuisine.
“Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen” by Paul Prudhomme
Summary: Chef Paul Prudhomme is a legendary figure in New Orleans cuisine. This cookbook showcases his innovative approach to Creole and Cajun cooking, providing recipes for classic dishes that have become synonymous with New Orleans flavor.
“From Emeril’s Kitchens: Favorite Recipes from Emeril’s Restaurants” by Emeril Lagasse
Summary: Emeril Lagasse, a household name in the culinary world, has had a significant impact on New Orleans cuisine. In this cookbook, he offers recipes that reflect the city’s dynamic food culture, showcasing his unique style and modern twists on traditional dishes.
“My New Orleans: The Cookbook” by John Besh
Summary: Chef John Besh’s cookbook is a celebration of his hometown’s culinary traditions. Filled with recipes that emphasize local ingredients and techniques, the book provides a glimpse into the diverse flavors and cultures that shape New Orleans’ food scene.
Spooky New Orleans
These books offer a spine-tingling exploration of the spooky and supernatural side of New Orleans, catering to readers who enjoy ghost stories, legends, and the eerie history of this enigmatic city.
“Ghost Stories of Old New Orleans” by Jeanne deLavigne
Summary: A classic collection of eerie ghost stories from New Orleans’ rich history. It explores haunted locations, supernatural encounters, and legends that have been passed down through generations.
Recommended for: Ghost enthusiasts and those intrigued by New Orleans’ spooky folklore.
“Voodoo in New Orleans” by Robert Tallant
Summary: Focusing on the mystical practices of New Orleans, this book delves into the history of Voodoo in the city. It explores the rituals, beliefs, and cultural influences that have shaped New Orleans’ spiritual landscape.
Recommended for: Individuals curious about Voodoo, those interested in spiritual practices, and readers who want to delve into New Orleans’ mystical traditions.
Summary: This book uncovers the haunted history of New Orleans, exploring the stories behind its most famous and eerie locations. It combines historical research with tales of ghostly encounters.
Recommended for: Fans of ghost stories, history enthusiasts interested in haunted places, and travelers looking to explore the supernatural side of New Orleans.
“New Orleans Vampires: History and Legend” by Marita Woywod Crandle
Summary: This book delves into the legends and lore of vampires in New Orleans, exploring the city’s fascination with these supernatural beings. It traces the history of vampire myths and their cultural significance.
Recommended for: Vampire enthusiasts, those intrigued by Gothic tales, and readers who want to uncover the vampire legends intertwined with New Orleans’ history.
Mysterious New Orleans
“The Axeman’s Jazz” by Ray Celestin
Summary: Set in 1919 New Orleans, this historical mystery follows a detective and his team as they investigate a series of brutal murders attributed to the mysterious “Axeman.” The book weaves together historical accuracy and suspense in a city gripped by fear.
Recommended for: Fans of historical mysteries and readers who enjoy true crime-inspired fiction.
“Captivating, scary true story”
New Orleans Mourning: A Gripping Police Procedural Thriller (Skip Langdon Murder Mystery) by Julie Smith
Winner of the 1991 Edgar Allan Poe Award for best novel
Summary: A murder mystery series featuring a female private investigator in New Orleans. This is the first novel in an 11 book series.
Recommended for: Readers who enjoy mysteries with real historical crimes and who like a series.
“A big dose of Big Easy atmosphere”
Bridge of Souls (City of Ghosts 3) by Victoria Schwab
Summary: While primarily a young adult novel, this book features a ghostly mystery set in the haunted streets of New Orleans. A girl with the ability to see ghosts must solve a supernatural mystery involving vengeful spirits and secrets from the past.
This is the 3rd novel in a series called “City of Ghosts”. The first two were set in Edinburgh and Paris.
Recommended for: Young adult readers who enjoy supernatural mysteries, fans of ghost stories, and those intrigued by New Orleans’ spooky side.
“Spine tingling and hair-raising”
Visitor Guides to New Orleans
These guidebooks are tailored to help visitors make the most of their trip to New Orleans, providing a range of options from comprehensive city tours to specialized walking routes and local insights.
“Lonely Planet New Orleans” by Adam Karlin and Ray Bartlett.
Summary: This comprehensive guidebook provides essential information for visitors to New Orleans. It covers attractions, dining, accommodations, and practical tips for exploring the city’s diverse neighborhoods and cultural offerings. Includes a handy pull out map.
Recommended for: Travelers planning a trip to New Orleans, those looking for a well-rounded guide to the city’s highlights, and individuals who want practical travel advice.
“Excellent descriptions and incredibly helpful”
“Moon New Orleans Walks: See the City Like a Local” by Barri Bronston
Summary: This guidebook offers a unique approach to exploring New Orleans by focusing on walking tours. It provides curated routes through different neighborhoods, allowing visitors to discover hidden gems and experience the city’s charm on foot.
Recommended for: Travelers who enjoy exploring by foot, individuals interested in local experiences, and those who want to immerse themselves in New Orleans’ neighborhoods.
“The New Orleans Bucket List: 100 offbeat adventures in the Crescent City” by L.M. Adkins and David L. Sloan
Summary: fulfill your NOLA bucket list with this book of over 100 adventures. Listen to a New Orleans local telling you the good and bad to help you decide. It even includes an actual checklist to help you keep track.
Recommended for: Anyone who doesn’t want to spend a lot of time researching to create a must-do list and wants straight forward facts from a local.
“New Orleans Then and Now®” by Sharon Keating
Summary: This unique guidebook compares historical photographs of New Orleans with modern-day views, offering readers a glimpse into the city’s evolution over time. It provides insights into the changes and continuities in various neighborhoods.
Recommended for: History buffs and travelers who want to explore the city’s past and present.
“Frommer’s EasyGuide to New Orleans 2023” by Diana K. Schwam
Summary: This user-friendly guidebook is designed for travelers seeking concise and practical advice for their visit to New Orleans. It offers recommendations for attractions, dining, accommodations, and more.
Recommended for: Travelers looking for quick and easy travel planning, individuals with limited time to explore, and those who want straightforward recommendations.